Growing wings in Malibu.
Ari Shark’s interview with Rachel Bagels
I can’t remember specifically when it had happened, I’m sure Rachel herself could tell you, but one of my earliest memories of Rachel “Bagels” Bruskoff was the instance in which she had acquired road rash down the entire upper front half of her body. It had been one of those injuries that forces a bit of a wake up call. More often than not, an exit, a re-evaluation, a sign to throw in the towel, and yet there she was, board in hand, gauze bandages stuffed into her pants, shirt, helmet on, ready to go. Another nail in the coffin for gender stigma, another day of skateboarding.
From her time spent globetrotting while racing for Landyachtz, to her current, more locally based lifestyle now riding for Seismic, Valkryrie trucks, and Riptide bushings, Rachel has spent the better part of the last decade embodying the fact that resilience and dedication come from the heart and soul. In honor of international women’s day, I caught up with Rachel in Malibu to snap some shots of her skating, and asked her a few questions about her life as a female skateboarder:
Rachel & Pepper The Dog, surveying distant inclines.
Ari: You remember that aforementioned road rash incident right? I’m not just imagining that yeah? How did that happen?
Rachel: We literally we on that hill yesterday! I will never forget that day. I was skating in shorts because it was your quintessential hot as hell cali summer day and I fell diving too late into the biiig left on the second section of the road- you know the one. I went right down to my thigh and lost a few layers of skin 😅 That isn’t even the best part! That session just happened to be on mother’s day and I headed to a family bbq right after - fresh rash and all! Let’s just say that my family was not stoked.. (haha).
Ari: How was that recovery process? Did that incident enlighten you to anything about your skateboarding? About yourself?
Rachel: I honestly don’t remember much because that was so long ago. But I am known for my smile and that never ceased from some road rash! I’m sure I took it with shrugged shoulders and just brushed it off as a side effect of having a damn good day.
Ari: How long has it been now since you started skateboarding?
Rachel: I’ve been skating since 2011. I’ll be celebrating my decade anniversary later this year actually! It’s absolutely wild thinking about it. Time sure does fly when you’re having fun.
Fine art and adrenaline - Rachel sports a self-painted Matisse-esque full face.
Ari: What excites you about skateboarding / downhill skateboarding? Are you an adrenaline junkie? What gains offset the risks involved for you?
Rachel: Downhill is just pure thrill and excitement. I love the feeling of the wind in my face and the excitement of conquering fear every time I step on my board. It’s been an incredible learning experience - about perseverance and dedication. What you put into skating is what you get out of it. Every step I progressed, every slide I learned, every time I went faster, every road I conquered - the feelings of growth, triumph, and adrenaline are incomparable to anything else out there. Of course, skating has its inherent risks and I’ve definitely done some pretty wild things, but it has pretty much always been worth it. There is no feeling like going fast on a skateboard. Every bit of rash and every injury definitely suck, but we’re all gluttons for punishment. The hardest part about getting injured is the wait to skate again!
Ari: From the Before-Pandemic-Times, did you have a favorite skateboarding event?
Rachel: From the archives, I adored the Catalina Island Classic here in California. The hill was amazing and it was basically an island takeover by downhill skaters! Such a fantastic event. There was also just pure magic when I went to the Philippines for the last years of the Visayan Longboard Trilogy. It was a 2-week long skate vacation that consisted of multiple island-hopping adventures, waterfalls, mopeds, hikes, skate sessions, races, freerides, slide jams, tours, boat trips, sleeping in hammocks, living at the beach, hanging in the jungle, racing an IDF event, and so much more. I am so ecstatic I got to be apart of these amazing experiences. Another event that is always top of the list is Kozakov Challenge. I experienced 4 years of Kozakov and loved every minute. The road is so fast, technical, and epic with other riders, the organization is absolutely solid, the parties are top-notch, and the competition is top of the line! It is definitely a bucket list event :)
A brief intermission.
Ari: Do you have any advice for young female riders who are just starting out? Potential recommendations for ways they can connect with other female skateboarders?
Rachel: My advice for any rider - young, old, new, female, nonbinary, male, etc. is to do what you love. Whatever is the most fun on board for you - do it, and do it often. Just like with anything, practice is key. With skating, community is so important too. Finding people to skate with is half the fun. The internet is a fantastic tool for connections. From fb groups to social media, reaching out and finding a community to be a part of is so helpful. Personally, my DMs are always open for conversations, advice, and whatever :)
Milkin’ that end-of-day light.
Ari: What future plans do you have for skateboarding, for yourself? (post pandemic)
Rachel: I’d love to keep progressing and pushing myself to new limits - hopefully trying new tricks, skating with new people, and tackling new roads. I also hope to attend many events to reunite with everyone I can and give everyone the biggest, longest hugs and take all the pack runs. 😍 I do also hope to get back into the world of racing. This time off from racing has been very welcoming, but with racing coming back, I’ll look forward to the possibilities of pursuing that competitive edge again.
Ari: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and for gracing us with your skateboarding wisdom! Any shout-outs? Any links or projects you’d like to make us aware of?
Rachel: I’d love to shout out my amazing sponsors! Valkyrie truck co., Seismic Skate, and Riptide Bushings! And other amazing companies that have helped me out: Zero31 Longboards, BTR leathers, S1 Helmets, and Ojoom Pucks! And of course, my amazing parents Larry and Linda for always being the biggest and best supporters I could ask for. Along with my incredible friends all over the world! I love you all and miss you so much! Social media: Insta/ tiktok/ fb: @skatebagels Website: RachelBagels.com
Shaving off some speed.
Let there be no doubt that skateboarding isn’t for the faint of heart. Skateboarding isn’t always rewarding; it's difficult, painful, frustrating, arduous. There is love in there, somewhere. Tough love, brutal love, but love none the less. It keeps us coming back, keeps us engaged, enamored, despite the risks. No human is exempt, immune to the allure of endeavor, the draw of the attempt. We are in our very nature vessels of exertion, striving, struggling to perfect, to achieve what has been dared as unachievable. In it since birth, purely for the effort, in one form or another; blood, sweat, and tears. So despite race, gender, religion, or creed, to skateboard is to try, and to try is to truly live, no one is exempt.
End of the day, clouds rolling in, a cool ocean breeze, Malibu.